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Cartagena Guidance Needed

Have been researching South American travel options after the dust settles regarding the Coronavirus crisis. Can anyone give guidance on Cartagena, Columbia and/or the surrounding area?

Posted by
4148 posts

I think it will be a long time before "the dust settles" re travel in South America. My experience of Cartagena is limited to a couple of port days on cruises, i.e. very limited, but you deserve some response after two days. The Old City is charming and parts are beautiful, surrounded by walls, with many pedestrian streets and some very attractive plazas. It was very crowded with tourists and various kinds of vendors on my late-January visit. Next to it is San Felipe Barrajas, one of the largest Spanish forts in the hemisphere. You could enjoy at least 2-3 days in old Cartagena. The new city is also supposed to be very nice, as are the beaches, but I have no experience there.

I've never ventured beyond cruise-ship-friendly parts of Cartagena or elsewhere in Colombia. There are many refugees from Venezuela, and probably after-effects of Colombia's long civil war. I suggest spending time with Lonely Planet and other recent guidebooks.

Posted by
238 posts

We were in Cartagena - loved it - for a week in Dec. 2017, after the excellent OAT tour of greater Colombia. HOT! There's a photo of the drops sliding off my nose one day, & we used the travel umbrellas as sunshields, a first. Stayed at Hotel Bantu with the tour & then nearby Hotel Santo Toribio on our own, both in the heart of the Old Town (neighborhood San Diego). Used Lonely Planet's guidebook & ate well from it & hotel desk recommendations, which overlapped, yay. Look at the online itinerary of OAT (Overseas Adventures Travel) for day-to-day activities in & beyond Cartagena. Great trip, great amazing country that's bootstrapped itself up immeasurably. We were in Bogota, Medellin, Pereira, & Cart., would go again to all. Buen viaje!

Posted by
679 posts

We went to Cartagena for a week over Thanksgiving. We spent a few days outside the city on a tour and then 5 days in Cartagena. It is one of my favorite cities. It was charming, musical and a such a treat. We stayed in an airbnb in the walled city facing one of the squares. I am thinking of posting a trip report on the RS site. If you have any questions, please feel free to PM me.

Posted by
16 posts

My husband and I spent a week in Cartagena over Christmas. TOTAL DREAM. We stayed for an entire week and in hindsight, wish we would have checked out another city...however! We LOVED it.

We are both in our early 30s, love to hike/travel/try the local foods/experience the off-the-beaten-path culture. We are both fluent in Spanish, but this is by no means necessary when traveling to Cartagena. Some recommendations:

  • Spend a night or two at Hotel Playa Manglares on Isla Baru. It's an absolute dream. Bed & Breakfast style hotel. Miguel and his family have owned the land for years and are such a delight. Also request the private island tour. A boat will pick you up and take you island hopping for the day. It's absolutely magnificent.
  • Have pizza and sit in the rocking chairs at Demente in Getsemani. Delicious & such a cool vibe. We went here 3 times during the week we stayed!
  • Watch the sunset with a yummy cocktail on the rooftop of Hotel Movich in the old city
  • Book a day trip to one of the islands. The water is gorgeous. We loved Isla Pirata. Isla Baru was a bit crowded (Hotel Playa Manglares is here, but completely separate from the tourist area)
  • Enjoy live music at Cuba 1940 located on Calle de la Cochera del Hobo
  • Have smoothie bowls at Cafe Central
  • Dinner at La Cevicheria on Calle Stuart. Anthony Bourdain made this place famous and for good reason. It's delicious.

Have the best time!! The city and the people are fantastic.